Review | ‘Implied Consent’ creatively tackles a serious topic

4x4x4 Implied Consent | The Actor’s Hub | Until 17th Feb | ★ ★ ★ ½ 

Throughout the Fringe World season The Actor’s Hub are presenting four different plays. Four nights a week, over the four weeks of Fringe World, they will perform four different plays. OUTinPerth went along to a performance of Implied Consent. 

Implied Consent is a verbatim theatrical work. The lines within the play have been lifted from a large number of interviews the creative team conducted. They went out and spoke to close to one hundred different people who shared their thoughts about what consent means and how you clearly define it, or in some of the interviews it would be fairer to say – how you completely fail to define it. The people interviewed also shared their highly personal stories surrounding the topic.

Four contestants arrive to take part in a game show about consent, there’s two teams completing and the stage features four stools and a giant chocolate wheel. The wheel features various topics related to the issue of consent.

At first the setting of hyped TV game show contestants, enthusiastic voice-overs, thinking music, and the chance of spinning up ‘domestic violence’ appears to be an insensitive way to approach the topic. It does however end up being a clever methodology to drill down in to a complex subject. As the performance progresses and the we descend into some of the heavier moments – and there are quite a few – we are given a moment of release via the comic storytelling device.

Justine Gray, Glenn Wallis and Chloe Gaskell from The Actor’s Hub are joined by Jessie Ward. All four deliver great performances, each playing dozens of different characters, switching back and forth in quick succession and displaying a range of emotions. The actors use a range of different devices to share the different thoughts on the topic, synchronised movement is used very effectively.

One of the most engaging scenes is when the recollections of a young man are shared, he tells us of a time he walked in on two classmates having sex with a girl. Later he joins in with the other two boys when they’re retelling the story, boasting about their exploits. He’s not sure if he’s the sex was consensual. He feels bad about joining in the storytelling, he wonders why he was unable to bring himself to intervene at the crucial moment.

It’s just one of many powerful stories contained within the work, and in putting the piece together the creators of the play have held back from moralising and passing judgement. A wide range of stories are presented as a tapestry of tales. There is no karmic payoff, no predictable resolution in the third act, it is all very real.

The play is long, there is an interval, but the journey could have been taken in half as many scenes. It is as if after interviewing so many people, the collaborators felt compelled to use a wide range of the stories they harvested – it could be culled back dramatically without losing any of it’s emotional punch.

4x4x4 is on until 17th February 2019, tickets are available from Fringe World

Graeme Watson. Graeme was one of the people interviewed for the writing of this play.